Review: Supernatural Episode 1515, “Gimme Shelter”

Supernatural dispenses with the funny stuff in “Gimme Shelter.” It looks like it’s gonna be heavy, tear-inducing material from here to the end.

Castiel and Jack investigate some good ol’ fashioned human-on-human murder while Sam and Dean go road tripping to track down Amara in the slow-burning “Gimme Shelter.” This week’s Supernatural episode was lighter on the action and focused more on catharsis and revelations. The biggest disclosure is that Jack knows what his ultimate fate is.

Connor, a member of the Patchwork Community Center church, or “faith-based community,” shows a disheveled beggar lady kindness, serving her something to eat instead of asking her to leave. But he only does it after receiving a pep talk from Pastor Joe (Steve Bacic) about leading with compassion. On his way home, Connor hears a disembodied voice calling him for help. He literally stumbles over a teddy bear. It greets him right before someone attacks him. Fortunately, it’s just your run-of-the-mill talking teddy with a speaker inside of it.

Sam reads about the discovery of his body in an alley in Missouri but decides it’s a standard murder. Dean, on the other hand, is eager to visit Atlantic City, since the power there has gone out for no apparent reason. He thinks Amara could be responsible. Additionally, a casino was putting up a big Keno jackpot and Dean recalls Chuck telling him she loves Keno. It’s a flimsy connection at best and I wasn’t sure Dean’s primary interest wasn’t the all-you-can-eat prime rib.

Castiel feels it’s dangerous and insists on joining them. However, as a way to placate Jack and keep him occupied, the Winchesters talk the unenthusiastic angel into investigating the murder with the Lucifer’s son. And this pairing did not disappoint.

Supernatural — “Gimme Shelter” — Image Number: SN1515A_0056r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Misha Collins as Castiel and Alexander Calvert as Jack — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Posing as Agents Swift and Lavato, they tell the Sheriff, who thinks Jack is on the young side, that Jack is a “very smart, very pale young man” who “just graduated from CSI.” Well, I’m convinced! She doesn’t deem it important to verify their credentials, giving them the freedom to ask if chicken bones were discovered, if anyone smelled sulphur or felt cold…you know, the standard demon or witch-identifying set of questions. Jack’s sweet naivety and Castiel’s angelic tactlessness going unchecked by Sam or Dean brought some humor to an otherwise sombre episode.

The details of Connor’s murder are grizzly: his fingers were cut off and forced down his throat, and the word “liar” was carved onto his body. The sheriff also shows them security footage of a masked killer hovering over his body. They suspect it’s demonic, so Castiel summons a crossroads demon for answers. Zack, a bored crossroads demon with a false posh accent, appears and confirms it’s not the work of demons because deals are no longer being made. According to him, Rowena has a philosophy that people will end up where they belong and he reaffirms it’s a human killer. Instead of heading back to the bunker, Castiel decides they should solve the case regardless.

Meanwhile, another member of the church, Valerie, steals from the donations box while locking up and is subsequently kidnapped by the same masked figure. She’s strapped to a chair with an inventive but sadistic device poised over her hand. A small blade above each finger is timed to chop one off at three-hour intervals, and the countdown shows on a screen. The word “greed” is written on the wall. It’s all very reminiscent of horror movies like Se7en. Also, a pattern begins to emerge: church members are being targeted for perceived wrongdoing, or false or faithless behavior.

Castiel and Jack visit the Patchwork Community Center after learning Connor and Valerie were both members. Pastor Joe’s daughter Sylvia (Nicole Muñoz) gets visibly upset when Jack asks about Connor and is unwilling to answer at first. But Jack’s innocent nature disarms her and she eventually opens up. He discovers they were close and dated as children — by “dated,” she means they watched old movies together. Horror movies perhaps? Jack and Sylvia bond over the grief of losing their mothers. Jack also admits that he has more dads than most people do and he feels like he’s always letting them down.

Castiel Agent Swift alerts Pastor Joe to Valerie’s disappearance. Pastor Joe believes they’re being targeted. During their conversation, Cas learns that the pastor’s wife grew up in the church. After she passed away, he relocated to the Patchwork Community Center and welcomed people from “all faiths and backgrounds”, including Connor, who he reveals was gay.

Now, not to jump the gun, but Sylvia’s the killer and it comes as no surprise. It became apparent even before she stabbed her friend or the prime suspect, brother Rudy, was found handcuffed and decaying on his bed with the word “lust” scrawled above the bedpost. You can feel the tension between Sylvia and Pastor Joe and can see the clash of their religious ideals almost right away. She holds onto her mother’s values of placing your faith in God, not people, whereas her father believes people need to take care of each other. His is the gospel of love and service.

She’s resentful towards him for letting her mother down by running the church the way he does. She feels the people don’t worship God, they worship him. Pastor Joe likens people to God’s hands, “each of us a finger for him to use to lift each other up,” and Sylvia cuts her victims’ fingers off — a symbolic act of defiance?

When Valerie is found, Sylvia threatens her father with a knife but Jack interjects and tries to reason with her. Stabby McStabberson then turns the knife on him, but of course, a stab wound to the heart is going to heal quite nicely when you’re a powerful Nephilim. When Castiel enters, she lunges at him too before he makes her sleep. He heals Valerie’s fingers, much to Pastor Joe’s pure astonishment, and they briefly have the “I’m an angel” conversation. As Sylvia is being taken away by the police, Pastor Joe pledges that whatever happens to her, she won’t be alone, he’ll get her the help she needs.

The investigation and church setting felt like the ideal backdrop — but a backdrop nonetheless — against which Jack and Castiel could explore and come to terms with the emotions they were struggling with. It also sets the stage for a very poignant speech from Castiel.

During an earlier prayer circle, Pastor Joe invited Jack, their newest member, to share his testimony. When he struggled to find the words, Castiel offered instead. He spoke of the blind faith he used to have, and how he’d follow orders without question. When the plan collapsed around him, he felt lost and purposeless but rediscovered his faith and who he was when “I found a family and I became a father.” When the camera panned to Jack, I imagined I saw tears in his eyes, probably because the tears in mine were blurring my vision. In a prior conversation, Pastor Joe had asked if he had children and he said it was complicated, but his testimony gave a resolute answer. It was a beautiful admission, and something Jack needed to hear.

I believe it gave Jack the confidence to confess to Castiel what he’d been hiding from them for so long. Driving back to the bunker, Jack finally unburdens himself. “I’m going to die. When I kill Chuck and Amara, I’ll die too,” he says, adding that, essentially, Billie’s spell is turning him into a kind of bomb. When he destroys God and Amara, he, too, will be destroyed. He asks Castiel not to tell Sam and Dean, as they won’t understand. And he believes it’s the only way they’ll forgive him. I’ve never felt sorrier for Jack than I did at that moment. The sacrifice he believes he needs to make to set things right is monumentous.

Naturally, Castiel is devastated and unaccepting of the news. At the end of the episode, presumably, he tells Dean before setting off to find another way. I believe Castiel will do anything and everything in his power to save Jack. Either he’ll be unsuccessful, or it will come at the cost of his own life. I hope I’m wrong on both counts.

Supernatural — “Gimme Shelter” — Image Number: SN1515B_0504r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Emily Swallow as Amara, Jared Padalecki as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sam and Dean’s story took a backseat this episode, but it’s revealing as well. During their road trip, they discuss finding Amara and having to lie to her. “We’ve gotta set her up for her own death,” says Sam, and neither of them looks particularly pleased about it. Perhaps to assuage the guilt, Dean reminds him that being Messengers of God’s Destruction, as Billie called them, wasn’t going to be easy or without bloodshed. “At least this time it’s not you and me,” he says without much relief.

However, Amara finds them before they reach their destination. Aside from hearing Castiel’s angelic broadcast, she knew they were searching for her because she could smell Dean’s distinctive musky scent from two states away. I don’t know how to feel about this information.

The Winchesters share their plans to kill God and ask for her help, but Amara shows no traces of vengefulness, nor does she have a desire to betray or kill her brother. Even after learning about Jack, his power, and having a way to trap God, she refuses.

It seems to be a lost cause until Dean goes back to have a private conversation with her. “Why?” he asks, but he’s referring to why Amara brought Mary back. What did she want to teach him? “My mom is dead, so what exactly did you want to show me? What was the point?”

Her answer floored me. “I wanted two things for you, Dean. I wanted you to see that your mother was just a person. The myth you’d held onto for so long of a better life, a life where she’d lived, was just that. A myth. I wanted you to see that the real complicated Mary was better than your childhood dream because she was real. That now is always better than then. That you could finally start to accept your life.” And second, “I thought having her back would release you. Put that fire out, your anger, but I guess we both know I failed at that.”

Dean says he’s not angry; he’s furious because they’re all just trapped in Chuck’s story, including her, not to mention all the people he’s killed. Amara rethinks the situation. When she asks Dean if she can trust him, he looks her in the eye and says he would never hurt her.

Why does him lying to her make me feel bad to my core for both of them? Dean is only doing what’s necessary and is masterful at hiding his feelings, but this is going to weigh heavily on him, of that I’m sure. And for someone named The Darkness, Amara demonstrates more light and kindness than Chuck ever did. We’ve always known that in order to maintain the balance, she has to die too. But at this juncture, I can’t help but wish Dean didn’t have to betray her. At the very least, I would want her to accept the decision of her own accord.

The emotionally charged mood has set in heavily and it’s only going to intensify over the last five episodes.

Super highlights

  • Zack is the driver of the police car escorting Sylvia away. Whether his new job is because of boredom or something more sinister remains to be seen.
  • If you thought Pastor Joe and Sylvia looked familiar, you’re paying attention. Steve Bacic played Doctor Sexy in season 5’s hilarious “Changing Channels” and Nicole Muñoz appeared in season 2’s “Everybody Loves a Clown.”

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